News - March 2019
Yourself (The Rest of the Story)
midst of last week’s message on forgiving the vampires in our lives, I promised
I’d dive a bit deeper into the topic here, so that we weren’t in church until
the chili cook-off. The forgiveness rabbit hole seems to start with many
misconceptions that we have about the topic (understandable as they may be). So
I wanted to share a few ideas on what forgiveness is not, so we can have a clearer understanding of what forgiveness is.
Forgiveness is not excusing unjust
behavior. “I’m not about to say that what she did was okay!” If you have
something to forgive, the good news is that God’s not asking you to say “it’s
okay”. Sin is sin. Consider this story from John 8, where a woman caught in
adultery (i.e. sin) is brought before Jesus. As Jesus pulls off some brilliant
lawyering, the accusers fall away and it’s just the woman and Jesus. What does
He tell her? “I don’t condemn you. Now go, and
from now on do not sin again.” Jesus forgives, and still calls the sin
forever reminding the kids to apologize when they hurt each other (they get
enough practice, you’d think they’d have it down!). But I’ll make a point, if
they are apologizing to me, not to say “it’s okay (excusing the behavior)”, but
saying “I forgive you (what you did isn’t right, but I forgive you anyway)”.
Why forgive? They should pay for what they
have done! I get this attitude better than any bullet point I could write
about. But it is that – an attitude – and one that can get us into danger if we
assume the role of judge, jury and executioner (hrmm, sounds like the vampires
we were talking about!). But we can trust that God mets out justice perfectly
(Romans 12:19), even if it’s not the fast and hard justice we may want. In some
situations, we may have to trust the legal system to work (there are cases like
that). Either way, forgiveness isn’t based on “I got the chance to exact
I don’t think I could trust this person
again. Fair enough. There are many cases when one person hurts another and
the relationship is never the same – completely reasonable. Forgiveness is an
instant thing. Trust, if it is ever rebuilt, happens over time. Sometimes it is
never rebuilt. Sometimes the remnants of a relationship change drastically.
That is okay. We can still make it our practice to not hold that hurt over
their heads (a working definition of forgiveness, yes?).
How do I know if I’ve really forgiven
somebody? I hate to answer this like it’s a simple matter, but if you could
hear their name or see them across the banana aisle and honestly wish them
well, that’s a sign you have forgiven them. If the scene still brings ill
feelings, it’s time to practice forgiveness again (perfectly understandable
place to be).
this scratches the surface a little deeper for you. My prayer is that this
week, you have little that you have to forgive, but if you do – that you are
able to do it well.